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where is it?   test your knowledge of Stoke-on-Trent

 

Airshaft to Brindley's canal tunnel near Woodstock Road, Kidsgrove

  • The Harecastle tunnel was an essential part of the transport system to take raw materials and finished ware to and from the Potteries - was built without a towpath.

  • Boats were propelled through the tunnel without their ponies, who were walked over the top of the tunnel via Boathorse Road.

  • There are two Harecastle Tunnels, one of which is still in use today. The earlier of the tunnels, built by Brindley, is now closed and disused. Yet the Telford tunnel is used daily by canal boats coming to and from Stoke-on-Trent.

  

 

a long remaining airshaft to Brindley's canal tunnel
a long remaining airshaft to Brindley's canal tunnel

 

Brindley's Harecastle Tunnel took from 1766 to 1777 to complete - eleven years in all - it took 600 miners and masons and was built using a line of shafts that were dug across the length of the tunnel, then these were joined together to form the tunnel. The shafts dug ranged from 210 to 240 feet deep. 

Miners were lowered down on ropes to dig, and the builders were fraught with many a hazard, from bad air in the shafts, water ingress into the tunnel, to quicksands, the build up of gasses from coal seams, to the encounter of rock harder than anything that he had ever come across before, such as granite and millstone grit. Many of the miners lost their lives in the building process.

The tunnel was described by a writer in 1767 as "the eighth wonder of the world " as nothing like it had ever been attempted before..

The tunnel itself would run for some 2,897 yards and would join the waterways between Kidsgrove and Tunstall. To give an idea of scale, the next longest tunnel at that time was Preston Brook at 1,239 yards. 

Needless to say, the tunnel is not very high - and not very wide either. The Leggers would be workers who hung around the tunnel entrance and would get paid for each boat they "legged" through the tunnel. The speed they went at often depended on the "extra's" they received for the work

 

the line of the Trent & Mersey Canal and the location of the air shaft
the line of the Trent & Mersey Canal and the location of the air shaft 

Bing Maps

 

 

the air shaft in a field close to Woodstock Road, Kidsgrove
the air shaft in a field close to Woodstock Road, Kidsgrove

Bing Maps

 

 

also see..


the historic boatman's walk to Kidsgrove

James Brindley - 'bad planning or pioneer of transport engineering?'

Boathouse Road, Goldenhill


 

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